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2013-10-23 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

A “smorgas-dog” of news this week:

First the facts behind a fallacy: Does the black spot on a dog’s tongue mean he’s a Chow mix because Chows have a trademark blue/black tongue? Nope. Many mixes and certain purebreds, like Goldens, Cockers, Dobies and at least 30 more breeds, can have black-spotted tongues.

This question came up about “Summer,” an adorable 19-pound mini Lab mix at Last Hope. She recently arrived on a transport from West Virginia. Summer doesn’t resemble a Chow. She looks as if someone put a full-size yellow Lab into the dryer too long and shrunk her. “Summer” has one black spot on her tongue which does not mean she is part Chow. She’s probably a Lab or Golden mix on a Beagle-size frame.

Chows are an ancient breed originating in China or Mongolia. Recent DNA mapping confirms this belief. Chows have been around for over 2,000 years and are easily recognizable in pottery and sculpture that dates back to the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to 22 A.D.) How the Chow got his blue/black tongue remains a mystery. An old fable offers an explanation: When God was painting the sky blue, He spilled a few drops of paint as he worked. The Chow followed after, licking up the paint and from that day on, the Chow has had a blue tongue.

The Pit Bull cake (To order 516-823-2200) The Pit Bull cake (To order 516-823-2200) The Chow is not the only breed with a blue/black tongue. The Chinese Shar-Pei shares this trait. A few other animals have black tongues too including the giraffe, polar bear and several breeds of cattle. However, spots on tongues are deposits of extra pigment, like birthmarks and freckles on people. Dogs often have spots of dark pigment on their skin, too, hiding under their coats. These spots can be large or small, many or few.

If a Chow’s tongue has a pink spot on it, does that mean it’s not purebred? No. Chow puppies’ tongues are pink at birth. They darken to blue/black by 8-10 weeks of age. Some tongues may mature to have small spots or splashes of pink. Elderly Chows and Chows with the diluted coat colors of cinnamon and blue sometimes lose tongue pigment as they age and develop pink spots.

Chows are members of the large Spitz family of Northern Hemisphere breeds which include the Samoyed, Siberian Husky, Malamute, Keeshond, Akita, Shiba Inu, Norwegian Elkhound, even tiny Pomeranians and others; some descended from the Chow . Spitz breeds have basic characteristics in common similar body structure, over-the-back tail carriage, pointy triangular ears, thick coat. What about dogs resembling Chows except for pink tongues? Well, they are probably not Chows, and instead a mix of other Spitz-type dogs. Well, little Summer doesn’t seem to be a Spitz type either.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) standard is stricter about Chow (and Shar-pei) tongues. Tongues must be black, the darker the better. A dog is disqualified from the show ring if the top surface or edges of the tongue are red or pink, or if the dog has one or more spots of red or pink.

Highlights of the 3rd annual Bully Breed Brigade: Special thanks to News 12 LI, especially producer Mark Ambrico and newscaster Elisa DiStefano, for sponsoring the Bully Breed Brigade last weekend and for spending both Friday and Saturday covering our event. Taping began for “Dog Day Friday” at 5 a.m. on Friday and continued throughout the morning, showcasing Hempstead Shelter, Last Hope and Southampton Shelter Pitties for adoption, as well as “Gabby,” the grand marshal of the Pit Parade.

“Diamond,” one of Hempstead’s featured dogs, was adopted on Saturday by a man whose landlady saw her on TV, as were at least four more from her shelter. On Saturday, our “Gabby,” who spent a year at Hempstead Shelter and almost another at Last Hope before overcoming a misdiagnosis of epilepsy, and then a wonderful adoption that led to an AKC Good Citizen title, left a trail of pink boa feathers on the parade route and even schmoozed with Town Supervisor Kate Murray.

Special thanks to “Rock & Rawhide” founders Kylie Edmonds Hillman and her wonderful emcee husband Sean-Patrick for coordinating the musical talent, many vendors and the supply collection drive during the festivities. They are incredible, and work to make lives better for shelter animals 24/7. Jeanie’s Bakery of East Rockaway and Wantagh donated an amazing standing Pitbull cake as a raffle prize, and Phil’s Pizzeria of Wantagh on the corner of Beltagh Avenue by our shelters provided $50 gift certificates to people who adopted Bullies from Hempstead during the Brigade.

Mark from News 12 carried “Spice,” a big Hempstead Bully dressed in some sort of tutu on to the stage for her intro. The most poignant moment came when “Drake” was introduced. There was a sad hush from the crowd when they learned that “Drake” has been at Babylon Town Shelter more than three years. He kissed Christine, his volunteer escort, right on cue. Hopefully someone wonderful heard that announcement and will be coming to adopt “Drake” soon. He was such a good boy at the event.

Come to “Adopt-O-Fest” at Babylon Shelter (Lamar St. W. Babylon-

631-643-9270) on Sat., Oct. 26 from

11 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Maybe you’d like to attend to meet “Drake.” Fundraiser and shelter adoption showcase; discounted adoption fees; bake sale; music; BBQ sale by Babylon Meat Market; face art and temporary tattoos for kids; raffles courtesy of Shelter Link. Please leave your dogs at home. It’s a day to let the Babylon pups and kitties shine!

Dogs for Adoption: Featuring two shining stars- “Drake” #93490 entered Babylon Shelter as a puppy over three years ago and has been waiting patiently his whole life. Tiny “Summer” at Last Hope (3300 Beltagh Avenue in Wantagh) is a year old. She is great with kids and other dogs.

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